This study was undertaken to characterize the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) response to varied dietary protein intake, energy deficit (ED), and consumption of a mixed meal. A randomized, controlled trial of 39 adults consuming protein at 0.8 (recommended dietary allowance [RDA]), 1.6 (2×-RDA), or 2.4 (3×-RDA) g · kg(-1) · d(-1) for 31 d. A 10-d weight maintenance (WM) period was followed by 21 d of 40% ED. Ubiquitin (Ub)-mediated proteolysis and associated gene expression were assessed in the postabsorptive (fasted) and postprandial (fed; 480 kcal, 20 g protein) states after WM and ED by using muscle biopsies, fluorescence-based assays, immunoblot analysis, and real-time qRT-PCR. In the assessment of UPS responses to varied protein intakes, ED, and feeding, the RDA, WM, and fasted measures served as appropriate controls. ED resulted in the up-regulation of UPS-associated gene expression, as mRNA expression of the atrogenes muscle RING finger-1 (MuRF1) and atrogin-1 were 1.2- and 1.3-fold higher (P<0.05) for ED than for WM. However, mixed-meal consumption attenuated UPS-mediated proteolysis, independent of energy status or dietary protein, as the activities of the 26S proteasome subunits β1, β2, and β5 were lower (P<0.05) for fed than for fasted. Muscle protein ubiquitylation was also 45% lower (P<0.05) for fed than for fasted, regardless of dietary protein and energy manipulations. Independent of habitual protein intake and despite increased MuRF1 and atrogin-1 mRNA expression during ED, consuming a protein-containing mixed meal attenuates Ub-mediated proteolysis.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01292395.
Keywords: caspase-3; high-protein diets; negative energy balance; ubiquitin proteasome.